You're sitting there trying to meditate, because you're feeling stressed out. Your eyes are closed, you're sitting in lotus position, and you're breathing in and out. You're even listening to some freakin' flute music your yoga teacher recommended. But somehow, you're just feeling worse as each second passes. It can feel kind of maddening, but I've been there, trust me. While it is often recommended to meditate to prevent stress and improve your well-being, there's just not a whole lot of information on how to meditate when you're stressed out going into the practice. How do you get past that initial roadblock of anxiety to truly find your center in meditation?
Well, according to spiritual teacher and meditation guide, Biet Simkin, author of the forthcoming book, Don’t Just Sit There: A Rebel’s Guide To Meditation, it's totally possible to surpass that hurdle, as difficult as it may seem. And no, you don't have to try and just ignore those feelings of stress and push past them. Simply take a beat, she says, before you get frustrated at, well, being frustrated.
"Sometimes it’s not best to meditate right away," Simkin tells me in an interview with Elite Daily. "Sometimes, you must tire yourself out [first]."
Your #feels are just doing their thing, so you might want to take a slightly different approach than just sitting down and saying "om," and hoping that'll do the trick on its own.
"You want to remember that rage and fear and anger live in the body, and if they are in you, they are trying to move their way through," the spiritual teacher explains. "Instead of angrily sitting there trying to meditate, do a 'rage' exercise."
And what's a rage exercise, exactly? Well, Simkin specifically suggests screaming and jumping around for three minutes while playing loud music — that's what a rage exercise is. (Side note: Her personal go-to music for this is Rage Against The Machine.) By moving around and yelling, she explains, you'll release some of that built-up tension, annoyance, or irritation you're sensing in your body. This exercise allows those feelings of stress to have somewhere to go, so they won't be bouncing around like pinballs when you try to get quiet with yourself.
"Lay there after you have let it all out, and then see if you can meditate," says Simkin. Similarly, she says, going for a run, a walk, or doing any cardio work can also help with releasing tension and toxic feelings before you try to sit down for meditation.
Another great trick Simkin recommends for getting that stress out? Shaking.
"Put on some music, and shake your body," she says. "Get all the excess energy out, and let all the stress out."
If shaking, jumping, screaming, and listening to loud music aren't really doing much for you, perhaps you'd feel better getting your body to do something a bit more low-key, that still works to channel some of that pent-up energy inside of you. According to Simkin, pushing hard against a wall or pounding your feet can both "create a charge in your body and get you grounded."
Once you feel a little more centered, a practice that Simkin says can really, really clear your mind before meditation is prayer — or, if you aren't religious, simply "asking" aloud for what you want in any given moment.
"Stop and internally ask, 'please help me calm down,' or, 'please help me be who you would have me be,'" Simkin says.
Again, this totally doesn't have to be a religious thing at all. As the spiritual guide explains, you're simply "talking to your own inner world, your own inner knowing, and your own inner guidance." If you're stressed out about something, or in conflict or confusion, this is merely a way to feel centered and more in-tune with what it is, exactly, that has you feeling so out of it. Admit it: You've definitely stood in your room and yelled, "Someone please, show me a freakin' sign!" (Or is that just me?) It's as simple as that.
"There's nothing hokey about it," says Simkin. "We must learn to communicate with all parts of ourselves. Asking or prayer is the first and most important tool for this."
Now, if none of these techniques seem to resonate with you, Simkin has one last suggestion for you to clear your mind before your meditation practice.
"When in doubt, always take three deep breaths," she says.
I think I can handle that, don't you?